Profiles

James Hunter at Daptone West

Photo: Mark Shaw

British soul James Hunter’s latest Daptone release, Hold On!, has a retro R&B vibe blended with a bit of ’60s lounge. The album was produced and recorded to an 8-track, 1-inch Ampex tape machine by Gabe Roth in his Riverside, Calif., studio, with additional studio space borrowed from his neighbor.

“I have a mixing studio in a big old brick building that used to be a YMCA,” Roth says. “I have a corner spot upstairs with a balcony. For the most part, I record in New York and mix out here. But I’ve done three records where I’ve recorded in California. What I do is: My landlord has an apartment down the hall that’s huge with high ceilings; I think originally it was a racquetball court. It smells terrible but it sounds wonderful.

“So this is the third time I’ve done this: I give my landlord some money to go on vacation for a week or two, and we go into his space, move some furniture out, hang moving blankets on the walls, put up some office dividers, and run a snake down the hall.”

Roth says that while Hunter’s previous album, Minute by Minute, required a lot of overdubs, this release was captured almost all live, including Hunter’s vocals and the horn section.

“For horns I think we used old Reslo ribbon mics, though we might have used RCAs for a couple of tracks,” Roth recalls. “For the vocal chain, I used a Bock 241. It’s a great mic, but it’s the same as anything: He’s a great singer with a beautiful vocal tone, and that makes him very easy to record.”

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